World's oldest woman dies at 114

2010-11-04 22:15

Pointe-a-Pitre - The world's oldest woman, a nun named Eugenie Blanchard, died on Thursday aged 114 in the French Antilles, officials said.

Blanchard died in hospital on Saint-Barthélemy, an island some 250km north of Guadeloupe, around 07:00 GMT, local officials said.

Cousin Armelle Blanchard told The Associated Press that, while Blanchard could no longer talk, she had seemed to be in relatively good health.

"When you talked to her, she would smile," she said. "We don't know if she understood us."

Blanchard was born in St Barts on February 16 1896, and lived much of her life in a convent on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao before returning home in the 1950s. 

'Sweets'

She was the last survivor of a family of 13 siblings.

Blanchard had earned the nickname "Sweets" because of how she treated others, said Victorin Lurel, who represents St Barts in France's lower house of parliament, the National Assembly.

Blanchard worked hard from an early age, her cousin recalled.

"At that time, life was very hard in St Barts," she said. "She tended the garden and took care of the animals."

After returning from Curacao, she lived in a quaint house in the Merlette district with a cat as her only companion, Blanchard said.

Blanchard became the world's oldest person after Kama Chinen of Japan died a week before her 115th birthday, according to the Gerontology Research Group, which tracks people of extraordinarily old age.

The Guinness Book of World Records also recognised Blanchard as the world's oldest person.

Read more on:    caribbean  |  france  |  guinness records
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